‘But we met each challenge head-on and created something’ – Life in Lockdown 2.0 with David Muscat

Actor David Muscat has starred in a number of productions including Jersey Boys, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Sideshow, One Man, Two Guvnors and Billy Elliot. I was fortunate enough to get to talk to David about how he has been keeping during the lockdowns and his part in creating new comedy ‘The Fosse Forest Ballet’ alongside fellow actor Phillip Joel.

Firstly, how are you feeling about the whole virus and second national lockdown situation?

It’s tragic. I can’t complain personally because so many people have lost their lives and the thought of that is truly saddening. I feel for all the people it’s affected, not only in that way but with people’s livelihoods as well. But we will get through it and hopefully we will make it to the other side with positives. As far as the second lockdown, I feel for those, not only within our industry but in others, that were just beginning to get back up from the canvas’ only to be put back on it. However, for the good of all, I’d like to hope those that make the decisions have done so based on what is required to save as many lives as possible.

How have you been keeping yourself occupied during the lockdowns?

I joined a production company towards the end of 2019. Emerge Production House and at the time, it was a side project, something that I could focus on during the odd moment of down-time. However, when the tour I was on got cancelled and we retreated back to the UK I, along with my business partner, suddenly found a load of time on our hands. So we’ve both spent the good part of both lockdowns trying to work on projects and initiatives to try and help creative types. We created an online platform called Emerge Sessions for musicians & songwriters to share their talents whilst they couldn’t do so via live performances.

We began work on a reimagined version of Romeo & Juliet which is now being developed in London & Coventry in early 2021. Developed a short film and created an online platform for actors to share some film creations. We worked on quite a few things to use the time to lay a good foundation and I’m hoping that as we move into 2021 we’ll be able to offer a lot more opportunities to emerging artists than what we would have done if we hadn’t gone through this pandemic. Also, we developed The Fosse Forest Ballet, a pilot episode for a TV pitch which in itself has been a massive venture..

What is your favourite thing about the theatre industry as a whole?

The freedom. To discover, to learn from and to enjoy. I’ve worked in a number of industries and each offers certain things that I can see that people would find things fulfilling. But for me, the freedom to be able to tell a story each night and have the chance to see the impact it has on people, is unique to theatre. In combination with the chance to stand on a stage and watch Sting or Anna Jane-Casey, Deka Walmsley, Ruthie Henshall, Joe Caffrey, Frances Mcnamee, Jackie Morrison, Matt Corner Sean Kearns, Oliver Savile, Louise Dearman and so, so, so many more… but to stand on stage with them and have a closer than front-row view to enjoy their brilliance is priceless in itself.

What are you most looking forward to doing once all of this is over?

A drink. With actual people. And purpose. Probably should have said purpose first.

Can you please tell us about working on The Fosse Forest ballet? What was it like putting together a television series whilst in lockdown? I imagine that it was rather challenging?

I don’t think anyone would believe me if I tried to describe the levels of work and effort that’s gone into this project. Not just myself, but with all involved. Having never gone through this process before, everyday is a learning day, which has been brilliant and scary and tough all in one. I think it’s one of the most, potentially exposing thing I’ve ever done. I do hope that people enjoy it and I hope this is just the first step. For raising funds for the theatre community, for creating future opportunities for theatre professionals and also the first step for the world’s first (most likely) theatrical sitcom. There has been countless challenges along the way, but I’m proud of the fact that we’ve come through the other side of them. With restrictions, editing sessions via zoom, too cramming in what should probably take about a week to shoot into co-ordinating it in two day. But we met each challenge head-on and created something, and if nothing else, I’m proud of that.

Do you have a favourite memory of your time in the industry?

Yeah, going down the miner’s lift on the final night of my first Billy Elliot contract. I was a mess. I loved that show and all involved. And although it was obviously sad, it was nice memory. Standing shoulder to shoulder with your mates about to head into the next chapter of things. That and the time one of the lads had to do the second act with deep heat in his jock because he lost a challenge.

With the theatres closed again and so much moving online, do you think we are seeing a change in how the theatre industry works?

I think it’s a natural progression. Before this situation the competition in the marketplace of things for people to do had grown substantially over the past 20 years. In the old days…. Yes, I can now say that because I’m ‘of age’…If you wanted to see a film you had to go to the cinemas, nowadays people can watch any movie they want with a click. Everything now is so accessible that I think naturally the world of theatre or ‘live performances’ may have had to move into the online arena at some point anyways. This pandemic has just fast-tracked that. I think there’s always a place for a live audience, but perhaps as the years go on, we may see that shows can be seen in person as well as streamed. Who knows?

Have you watched any of the theatre content online? If yes, do you have a favourite show you’ve watched?

If I’m totally honest, I’ve been working day and night on Fosse Forest Ballet but I am definitely looking forward to watching more when my time frees up. I do very much enjoy the platform of http://Thespie.com, I’ve managed to catch a few things on there already and I think moving forward I’ll be watching quite a bit more.

Do you have any advice for anyone who is perhaps finding the lockdowns hard to manage?

Reach out. My DM’s are open. A chat, a shoulder, an ear. If not, keep as active as possible. It’s easy to find several days goes by and suddenly realise you’ve only left the house for a kebab three days ago. Walk, talk… and I can’t think of anything else that rhymes with those words that’s fitting. But yeah, keep active and don’t be shy to reach out to others.

I would like to thank David for his time and his answers to this interview, and wish him the very best for the future, and with Forest Fosse Ballet. Stay safe x


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